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Insurance Commissioner

February 2, 2011 | By Duke Helfand, Los Angeles Times
After initially balking, health insurer Blue Shield of California has agreed to a request by California's insurance commissioner to delay a March 1 rate increase for 60 days. Commissioner Dave Jones had called on the San Francisco nonprofit last month to postpone the pending hike for 158,000 individual policyholders so his office could closely examine the paperwork. At the time, the company said it intended to go ahead with its third increase since October that together would raise policyholders' rates as much as 59%. Blue Shield hired an outside actuary to review its filing and promised to issue refunds if mistakes were found.
January 27, 2011 | By Stephen Ceasar and Duke Helfand, Los Angeles Times
Three of California's largest health insurers have agreed to delay for 60 days planned rate hikes for thousands of customers after state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones asked for time to review the increases. Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross and PacifiCare agreed to delay the increases for people with individual policies. Unaffected are workers insured through their employers. None of the three insurers had any immediate comment. The announcement Thursday was in contrast to a decision Jan. 15 by Blue Shield of California to defy the commissioner and go ahead with increases that could total up to 59%. As for Blue Shield, the San Francisco-based nonprofit, Jones said its policyholders "will not have the benefit of this additional review period to ensure compliance with the law, but I will do what is within my power to determine whether Blue Shield's proposed rates are in compliance with the law and to enforce that law. " The company is moving ahead with rate increases for the third time since October.
January 18, 2011
Health insurer Blue Shield says it won't comply with Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones' request to delay its latest double-digit rate increase until May. Instead, it has hired an independent actuary to go over the calculations supporting the new premiums for individual policies, which are due to take effect March 1. That's not much of a concession, given that a new state law requires insurers to submit any changes in rates to actuarial review. But maybe some good will come from this: With luck, the company's defiance will prompt Sacramento to give Jones some real authority over health insurance premiums.
January 14, 2011 | By Duke Helfand, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
Defying California's new insurance commissioner, Blue Shield of California has refused to delay controversial health insurance rate hikes for 60 days that prompted an uproar among customers who are seeing successive increases over the last five months of up to 59%. The nonprofit San Francisco-based insurer said it would submit its latest increase -- effective March 1 and averaging 15% -- for review by an outside expert. It pledged to issue refunds to customers if errors are found in its paperwork.
January 6, 2011 | By Duke Helfand, Los Angeles Times
California's new insurance commissioner called for health insurer Blue Shield of California to delay controversial new rate hikes for 60 days, saying recent increases by the industry were alarming. On the job since Monday, Commissioner Dave Jones said he wants to closely examine Blue Shield increases planned for nearly 200,000 individual policyholders, whose rates would rise for the third time since October ? some as much as 59% total. "I believe the premium increases are unsustainable," Jones said, referring to successive hikes in recent years by Blue Shield and its competitors in California.
January 4, 2011 | By Duke Helfand, Los Angeles Times
California's new insurance commissioner sought Monday to force health insurers to spend more of their revenue on medical care. In his first official act, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones ordered emergency regulations requiring insurance companies to devote at least 80% of their income to policyholders' claims in the state's individual insurance market. Jones' plan matches provisions in the new national healthcare law. Jones said the emergency regulations would enable him to enforce the 80% spending requirement in the federal law at a time when congressional Republicans are trying to kill funding for the measure.
November 20, 2010 | By Marc Lifsher, Los Angeles Times
California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner rejected a call by industry financial analysts for a 28% increase in workers' compensation insurance premiums, which are paid by most of the state's employers. Instead, Poizner, in one of his last major acts before leaving office in January, recommended that rates stay flat. He suggested that insurers could do much more to cut costs by adopting a number of reforms authorized by the Legislature six years ago. "Our nation and our state are in the midst of a recession and unemployment rates are sky high," Poizner said Friday.
November 4, 2010 | By Jack Dolan and Shane Goldmacher, Los Angeles Times
Bucking the national conservative trend, California Democrats swept all but one of the eight statewide elected offices, with the contest for attorney general too close to call Wednesday after a late surge by Democrat Kamala Harris. "It's a fine day today, isn't it?" said Tom Torlakson, a Democratic state assemblyman elected as California's next superintendent of public instruction. On the other side, Jon Fleischman, a vice chairman of the state Republican Party, titled a post-election analysis on his blog, "Random Thoughts After Being Run Over by a Truck.
October 16, 2010 | By Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times
When a Fresno RV dealer wanted a new sales permit recently, the state initially said no, citing "past business practices. " The man's firm had bounced $15,000 in fee checks to California's government, failed to follow a host of business regulations and misled consumers in an advertising campaign, officials said. The dealer also had lost a couple of lawsuits accusing his firm of selling defective motor homes, and he has been convicted of bribing a lender. Although field staffers at the Department of Motor Vehicles refused to approve a temporary permit, the businessman was allowed by their superiors to resume selling motor homes after Assemblyman Mike Villines (R-Clovis)
October 14, 2010 | By Marc Lifsher, Los Angeles Times
Two state assemblymen not much known beyond their districts are vying for a statewide office that has ample authority over automobile, home and life insurance coverage and is getting more power from the landmark federal healthcare law. The winning candidate for insurance commissioner ? either Democrat Dave Jones of Sacramento or Republican Mike Villines of Clovis ? will have a chance to help set up state programs as part of President Obama's national healthcare overhaul. The commissioner runs the California Department of Insurance, which oversees a $124-billion market.
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